[MUD-Dev] Re: Real-world skills

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 24 16:13:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Tuesday, July 24, 2001, 2:38:01 PM, Koster, Raph wrote:
>> From: Justin Rogers
>> [Luke]
>>> That is a very good point. Sort of makes me wonder though, why
>>> aren't MUDs used more for educational purposes? Instead of
>>> requiring the skills of patience, aliasing, and killing, why not
>>> require/teach important things like economics, engineering, and
>>> science? Just make some quests with the appropriate problems.
>>> Seems like most "educational" MUDs I've visited are MUSHes and
>>> MOOs that try to make a virtual clone of their university or
>>> something. Has anybody made a MUD with an actual tutorial for a
>>> real-world peacetime problem, where the characters could get
>>> real points for solving it? Could such a MUD even be fun?

>> This falls under the primary idea of logic puzzles and teasers. 

> It doesn't have to. Arguably, running a vendor in UO teaches basic
> profit and loss and business management, in a more dynamic market
> environment than standalone games usually offer. And many people
> seem to find it fun...

Yep.  I'm on a mailing list that discusses RPGs for children, and
one topic that's come up there is using RPGs educationally.  Here's
an excerpt from a post from a while back there:


One time, in my AD&D game at home, the kids uncovered a treasure
trove full of jewels and gems. They thought I was being way too
generous with them. Then they tried to pay for dinner at an Inn with
a ruby. The innkeeper said, "Um, this is nice, but um, it really
won't do for coinage here..." They had to struggle to pay the bill
and the next day set off into the city to find someone to handle
their jewels.

Once they located a jeweler who might buy the jewels from them (that
was a little adventure in and of itself) I related to them the
concepts behind jewels and economic theory. Basically, they had to
find someone who was willing to purchase the jewel from them. The
Dwarf craftsman whom they first consulted already had rubies
aplenty. He didn't need any more, really, but was willing to take
the jewel off their hands for about half what "book rate" was (book
rate being the rate in the book). They thought this was mean of me,
but they went ahead and looked for another jeweler.  They found an
Elven jewelry who was interested in the ruby until they told him
they'd gotten it in a treasure chest they found in an Ogre's
den. The Elf was worried that there was some evil spirit still
attached to the jewels, and unless they took them to the Elven
temple to have them blessed or something, he wasn't
interested. Finally they found a Thieves's Guild fence who would
take the jewels off their hands for a "pretty good price."  Of
course, what they haven't found out yet was that the Guild really
gypped them bigtime.

I set up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and showed them what their
*deal* was, walking them through the math. They were unhappy. What
they originally thought was something like 10,000 gold pieces
actually turned out to be about 1000, and they had to pay the fence
for the privilege of selling them, so that their net profit was more
like 580, 600 GP.

The fun part was, next time someone offered to pay them for a job
they were doing, they refused taking the money in gems.


The whole point of this is that I used this to teach about the laws
of supply & demand, marketing and so forth plus a healthy dose of
percentage mathematics and the idea of "relative value." Plus
"caveat emptor." Not bad for a four-hour game session.



A Star Wars game I was in recently had a bit which could be nice and
educational -- a ship was set to be in a race, and some of the
ship's owner's opponents sent a crew of thugs over to sabotage the
ship.  The PCs come in at this point -- the ship has already been
damaged, so it can't be prevented.  There were 20 hours until race
time, and the damage to the ship was such that it would take about
60 person-hours to repair it, under ideal conditions.  We had two
characters who could do ship repair, so we had to look into hiring
others to help out on it.  Several different systems were damaged,
so we had to prioritize what needed to be repaired.  There were also
certain parts which could shorten the repair time if we could spend
the money and time to find them -- the repairs could be jury-rigged
without the parts, but it would take longer.

It was a nice little problem in resource management, compounded by
some extra options we had... for example, our repair folks could
work around the clock, but their chances of success on the repairs
would suffer for it.  And we also needed to try to guard against the
enemy coming back and doing a job on the ship again.

Once the ship was repaired, we helped run it through the race.  In
true Star Wars fashion, part of the race was through an asteroid,
forcing us to make decisions about how hard we wanted to press
things.  That part also required a lot of player cooperation -- one
player was the navigator, responsible for manning the sensors and
letting the pilots know an obstacle or turn was coming up.  Another
was the pilot, I was co-pilot, and our other two players each manned
a weapon, in case someone decided to get funny in the race.

Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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